Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On January 27th, after around a year and a half of construction, the move-in day at our CLET dormitories had finally arrived.

The students and their families were very excited and joyful to be housed together in the new housing units. We had a very festive dedication service with singing, dancing, prayers, and preaching. Rev. Desirée Tade, a member of the CLET faculty, led the service as liturgist. Rev. Micah Wildauer, fellow LCMS-OIM missionary, preached in French. The president of the Lutheran Church of Togo, Rév. Prés. Lambon, was present with several fellow pastors in the ministerium of the Togo church. As part of the dedication service, the pastors broke into teams to bless the individual homes and the families that were going to live in them. We followed the traditional Epiphany custom of chalking the doors. The formula 20 + C + M + B + 18 is written over the lintel or next to the handle of the door. The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi - Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar - who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: "May Christ bless the house." The "+" signs represent the cross, and the "20" at the beginning and the "18" at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription confesses that Christ is the Lord who blesses and dwells among the faithful who dwell in the home. In the African context, this rite serves as a Christian replacement to traditional pagan rites that involve animal sacrifice and the placing of blood on the walls of a new house to offer protection and blessing to the family.

We also had a festive meal to commemorate the dedication. The wives of the students and the ladies of the CLET women's school prepared a delicious meal of guinea hens and peanut sauce soup over pounded yams and rice. The local chiefs and families in the neighborhood also attended. It was a great opportunity to strengthen ties with the local population and to invite them to hear and see where our hope is in Jesus Christ.

This move-in day marks a big, positive change in the lives of our students on our campus that we pray will help the students to focus on their studies. The dormitories offer several amenities and features that are not usually available in other housing arrangements in the city:

1. The housing is managed by the CLET - this spares the students the stress of having to deal with Muslim and pagan landlords who treat foreigners unjustly.
2. The neighbors in the compound are other CLET students - sometimes when the students are housed in larger compounds the wives who do not speak French or the local language will have misunderstandings that can escalate quickly. In our CLET community among other Christians, tensions can be more easily and directly dealt with before escalating out of control.
3. The toilet facilities have a closed septic system - this system has pipes that take the waste and water to a closed tank. This Is a great improvement over the old system: a direct drop-down outhouse-like setup where flies can easily go in and out and spread cholera, malaria, and other diseases.
4. There is a new well on campus with fresh drinking water. Before the students had to carry large, plastic containers of water on their shoulders or on their bikes back home for use. Sometimes the city water supply gets contaminated and the students and their families would become ill. Or they would have to pay to use a neighbor's well closer to home that could also become contaminated. This new well is owned by the CLET and is located just meters from their front doors.
5. The electricity account will be handled by the CLET - often the students do not have electricity in their rental rooms in the city and oftentimes the landlord will not pay the bill and the electricity will get shut off. The new housing electricity will permit the students to charge their tablets and study in the light overnight. Sometimes they have had to forego doing their homework because there was no electricity in the room to charge their tablet battery to read a book.
6. The buildings have elevated, concrete floors - in some houses in the city the floors are dirt and oftentimes flooding occurs. This can damage the students' property - especially books, which are expensive - and clothes. The floodwater can also bring diseases into the home where the families sleep.
7. The buildings have windows on two sides - this allows for adequate airflow which is better for health and for keeping the rooms cooler in the hot African sun.
8. There are hand washing sinks near the toilet facilities to reduce the risk of transmitting diseases.

We already have enough pledges for next year to complete a property wall. This wall will add necessary security and it will permit the students to farm the other two thirds of the property without their crops being damaged by neighbors' pigs and other livestock. We are truly thankful for the generosity from LCMS members that have permitted us to make this important addition to our campus.

In Christ,

Rev. Jacob W. Gaugert
Centre Luthérien D'Études Theologiques
B.P. 53

Togocell # (+228) 93 43 95 26
T-Mobile Intl. # (262) 271-3813

About our Missionary ...

Reverend Jacob W. Gaugert was ordained in April, 2010. at Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in theological and classical languages. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana for two years and spent an acedemic year as Vicar for St. Mary's Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany. He received his M. Div. degree from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2010. He served as Vacancy Pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whiting, Indiana from 2011-2013.

In 2013, Reverend Gaugert answered a call as a career missionary to teach at a Lutheran Seminary in Dapaong, Togo (West Africa).